is enough: Tenants join landlords in Bay Area exodus as San
Francisco's City-of-Shit reputation sinks into corruption
A San Jose group of friends and family have decided to leave
Silicon Valley for the cheaper and less crowded Colorado
Springs, CO. Tony Hicks, (fourth from left), the landlord, is
selling his three homes in San Jose. His tenants, whom he
considers friends, are moving to Colorado with him and will live
in new homes that Hicks plans to buy with the proceeds. Pictured
are, from left, Tony Hick’s wife, Fidessa Hicks, 31, Edwin
Blomgren, 70, Ron Remington, 66, Tony Hicks, 58, Hick’s
daughter, Jihae Cho, 8, Retta Setser, 66, Mike Leyva, 64, Tom
Hartmann, 63, Daniel Harvey, 60, and Dale Delabrue, 57. (Dai
Sugano/Bay Area News Group)
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JOSE – Tony Hicks moved to San Jose in 1981, but he’s had enough.
told his 11 tenants he would soon place the three homes he owns on
the market. He expected disappointment. Instead, most wanted to
move with him to Colorado.
didn’t take them long,” Hicks said. “I was surprised.”
prices, high taxes and his suspicion that the next big
earthquake is just a few tremors away convinced the retired
engineer to put his South San Jose properties up for sale.
groundswell to leave Silicon Valley — the place of fortunes,
world-changing tech and $2,500 a-month-garage apartments — has
been building. For at least the last nine months, the San
Francisco metro area has led the nation in the number of residents
moving out, according to a survey by online brokerage Redfin.
Jose real estate agent Sandy Jamison has seen many long-time
residents and natives leave the state recently. The lack of
available housing, leading to some of the priciest real estate in
the country, is driving many from the region, she said.
has even drawn up a marketing flyer for the top five reasons
people leave the Bay Area: high taxes, cost of living, quality of
life from traffic to homelessness, politics and high housing
prices. For many long-time residents, she said, “they feel like
they don’t belong here any more.”
and his friends share the sentiment.
been thinking about this for a long time,” said Dan Harvey, 60, a
retiree in one of Hicks’ rentals who is concerned about the
traffic he fights on his Harley Davidson and the high cost of
living. “A fresh start.”
landlord and tenants came together through Hick’s rental ads on
Craigslist and in the newspaper over the last two decades.
They grew close with common bonds of conservative politics,
religious faith and motorcycles.
an unlikely collection of 10 men and one woman — a retired
engineer, a few military veterans, blue collar workers and otherson
fixed incomes. Few say they could afford to go it alone in
the sky-high housing market in San Jose, where a typical two
bedroom rents for about $2,500 a month, far more than
what they pay Hicks.
of the men are divorced, widowed or never married, and
many suffer from health ailments and a crankiness exacerbated
by Bay Area traffic, crowding and the state’s liberal
policies on crime and immigration.
58, was an engineer and marketing executive at
IBM, Xerox and other companiesbefore
retiring in his early 40s to raise his daughter from his first
The California Dream is tough to afford if you’re under 40
bought a few investment properties in South San Jose,and
looked for long-term returns when he sold them. He kept
rents low — between $500 to $1,200 a month for one bedroom — and
never raised prices once a tenant signed a lease.
of his tenants have been with him for more than a decade.
became brothers,” said Mike Leyva. The 64-year-old Army veteran
and retiree signed a lease in 2004 and never left.
recent years, Hicks began to believe there was a better life
outside the valley.
real estate prices added incentive. He kept up on tax laws that
could maximize the returns on his property. Selling his San Jose
rental houses and buying new properties with the proceeds
would allow him to defer taxes. “It’s a great financial move,” he
was also moved by discussions with his pastor and sermons at his
church, the Vietnamese Living Word Community Church, about
Biblical journeys. His spiritual beliefs guided
him to his decision tomove
with his new wife, Fidessa,31,
he broke the news to his friends.
was totally shocked,” Leyva said. “I thought he was joking me. I
had a lot of questions about it.”
spent two days researching the move and became convinced. He
expects to slash his rent from $1,200 to about $800 a month,
with more room in a newer home bought by Hicks. “I’m excited,”
Leyva said. “It’s going to be a new journey in my life.”
Blomgren, 70, pays $495 a month for one bedroom and a shared
bathroom. The retired machinist, a Navy veteran, lives on a fixed
income and couldn’t afford market-rate rent.
grew up in Colorado, and he welcomes a chance to return to his
home state, where he still has family. “At my age,” he said, “I
think it might be a good thing.”
planned to stagger the sales of his properties over several
months, to make the move easier. He went to Colorado Springs
with his wife, Leyva and Harvey in December to scout properties.
expects to get a lot more for his money. The median home
value in Colorado Springs is $263,000, compared to $1 million for
a single family home in San Jose, according to real estate
came to Jamison with a proposal: sell all three homes, so he could
buy a half-dozen newer, bigger and cheaper homes in the
smaller, mountain town, home to the U.S. Air Force Academy.
a day of listing his Raposa Court home, Hicks had two offers in
hand above the $998,000 asking price.
an open house, Hicks agreed to a $1.25 million cash offer. Another
interested buyer agreed to purchase one of Hick’s rentalsfor
$900,000, even though Hicks didn’t list it.
the next two months, several tenant friends
will fill up moving containers with
their personal possessions and several
motorcycles. Hicks expects at least six tenants and another
Bay Area friend to eventually make the move. He will bring his
family to Colorado this summer.
and his wife plan to buy orbuild
a large home for about half the cost of what they sold their
San Jose house. He expects to buy another six homes in good
Valley will be in the rear view mirror, he said. “I even bought
cemetery plots,” Hicks said. “But I’m selling them.”